In the month of March I'm usually still skiing, and often miss out on peak grass widow time. But this year, freshly returned from my Utah ski trip, I was ready a change in activities - time for a spring hike!
So on a sunny, mid-March Friday, I pointed my car east towards the Catherine Creek Trailhead. This area has the reputation for the finest and earliest grass widow bloom.
|Catherine Creek crossing|
From the parking lot, I spied the first patch of these tiny lavender blooms dotting the adjacent grassy field. Following the trail through this first meadow took much longer than expected - I wanted to photograph as many of these lovely flowers as possible. Normally the highest concentration of grass widows are found adjacent to the parking lot, and I was afraid this would be the only place I'd see them (lucky for me was I wrong about that!)
|Old ranch corral|
After an extended photography session, I tore myself away from the meadow, and followed an old road as it descended into an oak forest, crossing Catherine Creek itself, and then gradually climbed past an abandoned corral.
|Lovely grass widow|
Then the old road climbed again, through a ponderosa pine forest, until transitioning into trail that quickly intersected onto a wide, grassy slope. Mt Hood popped above the horizon, it's gleaming white summit making a fine subject for my camera lens.
|Mt Hood sighting|
And in this grassy meadow were more grass widows. Quite a large concentration, they beckoned to be photographed. I ended up adding several dozen more images to my memory card.
|Another purple beauty|
Oh the views were stupendous! Mt Hood anchored the western skyline, while steep cliffs and bluffs lining the mighty Columbia River stretched to the east.
|Better mountain views up high|
After spending the better part of a half hour scenery gazing in the high meadow, I reluctantly retraced my steps back downhill. But little did I know the best was yet to come!
|Never a shortage of flowers to photograph|
Instead of heading back towards the old corral, I opted to return on a loop trail that followed the top of a rocky ridge. Descending towards this ridge, I came upon a huge patch of grass widows. The best concentration yet, the ground here was absolutely purple with blooms.
|I liked this pair the best|
Grass widows were everywhere! The further I walked downhill, the denser the flower patches became.
At one point, the top of the ridge was a thick stripe of purple from so many grass widows.
|Flowerful canyon rim|
The early afternoon sun began to light up the eastern Gorge, turning the river into a lovely shade of blue.
|Columbia River views|
I even spotted a rare patch of white grass widows amongst the flower fields.
|Found a patch of white grass widows|
After capturing several hundred images of scenery my creativity, and my camera, began to tire. Wildflower overload!
|Best bloom in a long time|
Still, it was the best grass widow bloom I'd ever witnessed at Catherine Creek.
|Looking east down the Gorge|
I captured a few more images of the always-scenic Columbia River Gorge before finally returning back to my car.
|One final image!|
A great way to spend a sunny March morning. Although only a 3-mile hike, the Catherine Creek Trail packed a lot of good stuff into such a short distance.
Hike number 8 done! #52hikechallenge